Every year, across Australia, farming systems groups conduct an array of on-farm research trials to provide local grain growers with information and insights to help them overcome cropping challenges.

And it is not just members of the farming systems groups conducting trials that are benefiting from the outcomes – valuable data from those trials is now being collated into a central, easy-to-access online information resource for all growers, agronomists, researchers and the wider grains industry.

A Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment, Online Farms Trials (OFT) has been set up to allow users to view, analyse and export grains research information.

Using innovative technology, the OFT web portal has been developed by the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia in Ballarat (Victoria).

Project leader Robert Milne says around 3400 trial projects have so far been published on the OFT site, with data contributed by grower groups and research organisations from across the nation, and he encourages growers, agronomists and other grains industry personnel to make use of the unique resource.

“OFT is an easy-to-use platform for discovering information from cropping trials conducted throughout Australia to assist with on-farm decision making and planning,” Mr Milne said.

“Collation of this information in an online database allows historical, geographical and crop-specific comparisons to be made.”

Published trial projects cover a wide range of crops and treatment types, and the portal includes a number of key features, such as:

  • An interactive map of trial sites with layers of relevant information such as agroecological zones and average rainfall;
  • Advanced search filters including treatment type, crop type and location;
  • Search results with graphical display of measured results such as yield data and disease scores;
  • Climate and soil information for each project;
  • Original trial report documents linked to each trial project; and
  • Links to other relevant information sources.

Grower groups and researchers are continuing to enter data onto the portal and the number of trials published on the site will continue to grow.

“OFT contains information on how to become involved in the project and how to submit research. Grower groups and other research organisations which have previously not submitted data are welcome to become involved,” Mr Milne said.

“Greater involvement across the grain research community is paramount for the long-term uptake of the trial data and the success of OFT.”

Grower groups and researchers retain all intellectual property rights and manage their own data, allowing them to submit, update or remove trial information on OFT.

The GRDC’s OFT initiative won a Victorian Spatial Excellence Award as part of the annual awards conducted by the Spatial Industries Business Association and Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute.

This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine

Featured Image Credit: GRDC